March 2017

TUBUAI

After about ten days anchored off Motu Roa we threaded our way back through the bombies to anchor off the supply wharf again for 24 hours.  There is only one place on the island that has public internet access, the Post Office…

Yellow and blue are the corporate colours. Most of the post offices in French Polynesia are painted up in a similar fashion.

Even when the office is closed the WiFi still works, sort of.

Having been into “town” for a re-supply at the “supermarket”, Chinese owned and run, as a lot of them are, we headed back to EL.  Imagine our surprise to see another yacht!  Since we’d left Tahiti we’d only seen one other boat and that was on our passage south to Raivavae.  They had been heading north.  The new boat turned out to be a Chilean flag yacht we had seen in The Gambiers in September last year. Now a delivery crew were on board taking her back to Valparaiso and they had stopped in Tubuai to get an updated weather forecast, via WiFi at the Post Office.

Our next anchorage was at the west end of the island, not far from the airport runway.  Not that the three or four flights a week are very disturbing.  Within a couple of days of anchoring we met a local family who effectively adopted us for the remainder of our stay.  Whilst they didn’t speak much English and our French isn’t up to much we got along fine.  Google Translate on an iPad is a wonderful thing! They also had an iPad but no charging lead so you can imagine their delight when I gave them a spare one of ours.

The guy in the middle of the photo is a family friend who is also their Pastor.  One morning he took Sheryl and I on a bike tour of the island.  Now follows a bit of Royal Naval history.

On 28th April 1789 Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian led a mutiny against his Captain, one William Bligh.  The ship, of course, was HMS BOUNTY and the story is famous around the world.  What is not so well known is what happened to the mutineers between the time of the mutiny and there eventual arrival and settling on Pitcairn Island.  One of the places they visited in the BOUNTY, in search of a place to settle, was Tubuai.  They were here long enough to build a stockade and named it Fort George, after the then King of England.  Today no trace of the Fort remains but there is a memorial plaque marking the site of it at the west end of the island…

The date on the memorial is 10 July 1789, almost two months after the mutiny.

This extract from Wikipedia tells the story of their time on Tubuai

Bounty arrived at Tubuai on 28 May 1789.  The reception from the native population was hostile; when a flotilla of war canoes headed for the ship, Christian used a four-pounder gun to repel the attackers.  At least a dozen warriors were killed, and the rest scattered.  Undeterred, Christian and an armed party surveyed the island, and decided it would be suitable for their purposes.  However, to create a permanent settlement, they needed compliant native labour and women.  The most likely source for these was Tahiti, to which Bounty returned on 6 June.  To ensure the co-operation of the Tahiti chiefs, Christian concocted a story that he, Bligh, and Captain Cook were founding a new settlement at Aitutaki.  Cook’s name ensured generous gifts of livestock and other goods and, on 16 June, the well-provisioned Bounty sailed back to Tubuai.  On board were nearly 30 Tahitian men and women, some of whom were there by deception.

For the next two months, Christian and his forces struggled to establish themselves on Tubuai.  They began to construct a large moated enclosure—called “Fort George”, after the British king—to provide a secure fortress against attack by land or sea.  Christian attempted to form friendly relations with the local chiefs, but his party was unwelcome.  There were persistent clashes with the native population, mainly over property and women, culminating in a pitched battle in which 66 islanders were killed and many wounded.  Discontent was rising among the Bounty party, and Christian sensed that his authority was slipping.  He called a meeting to discuss future plans and offered a free vote.  Eight remained loyal to Christian, the hard core of the active mutineers, but sixteen wished to return to Tahiti and take their chances there.  Christian accepted this decision; after depositing the majority at Tahiti, he would “run before the wind, and … land upon the first island the ship drives.  After what I have done I cannot remain at Tahiti”.

There, you probably learnt something!

We also spent one Friday evening at our new friend’s church.  They are Mormons and there was some sort of conference being held over a weekend.  To welcome the Elders to the conference the Church had arranged a cultural evening of song and dance.  Each of the French Polynesian archipelagos was represented in dance and what they lacked in skill was certainly made up for by energy and enthusiasm.

By mid month it was time to be moving on again.  We said farewell to our new friends and in the afternoon of Saturday 18th we motored out of the lagoon and out to sea, heading north for Tahiti.

Three days later we were off the west coast of Tahiti and by 1630 on Tuesday 21st safely at anchor off Marina Taine.

We only intended to do a quick two or three day pitstop in Tahiti before resuming our wanderings to the west.  However, two to three days turned into eight, as it so easily does when you adopt this lifestyle. We met up with our friends the Hendersons with whom we had practiced crossing the Panama Canal in their catamaran SKYLARK and hadn’t seen since April last year.  Also John and Julie from MARY ANNE II were there, we’d last seen them in Papeete at New Year.

By the 29th the re-provisioning was complete, we had full propane bottles and topped up with water and duty free diesel as we left Tahiti to make the short crossing to Moorea.

For the next educational and informative episode of The Cruise of Emma Louise click here.